Kasha

I adore kasha, but I wonder if my personal memories of it are too strong for me to be objective. In my late teens and early twenties, whenever I visited my aunt and Russian uncle, they would fill their table with Russian counts and princes of imperial blood, then serve pheasant cooked in 100-year-old Madeira, perched on nests of wild rice and kasha. The fact that these meals usually occurred in the dripping 100-degree heat in Washington, D.C., in August, only added to the surreal quality of the dinners, something that appealed to and never deterred the Russians. After all, “it was grouse season in Scotland, and pheasant season somewhere.”

Unlike wild rice, kasha is cooked using the “pilaf” method, which is to say that the liquid is measured so that theoretically, when the liquid is gone, the kasha is done. But like wild rice, kasha really comes into its own when put back in the oven and toasted again after the first cooking. The extra oven work is worth the added flavor the kasha gets from the toasting.

Use the largest size groats.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup kasha or buckwheat groats
  • 1 whole egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • cups water
  • 1 cup chicken, turkey, or duck stock, or a mixture

Method

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Choose a 6-inch-deep covered heavy casserole that will hold the kasha in a 2-inch-deep layer.

Put the kasha in a bowl with the egg and salt, and mix well. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the casserole over medium heat, and add the kasha. Cook while stirring constantly for 5 minutes or until the kasha and egg are dry. Then add the water, cover, put the casserole in the oven, and bake for 20 minutes.

Take the casserole out of the oven, uncover, add the rest of the butter and the chicken stock, and stir well. Put the casserole back in the oven uncovered for another 15 to 20 minutes, stirring and turning it over every 5 minutes, until the kasha is fluffy and dry, the grains separate, and the kasha has a wonderful toasted aroma.

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